The Commission met on Monday, May 1st for its regular quarterly meeting. In this legislative season, the Commission had a modest agenda of rules to consider as it awaits the outcome of policy decisions made by our Texas lawmakers. In addition to hearing updates on customer service, license processing, exam administration, complaint investigation and enforcement, and financial matters, other administrative business was also accomplished, including the adoption of our annual internal audit plan, updated appointment of investment officers and the annual review of the Executive Director’s performance.
The most impactful rule we approved is a clarification of the “equitable interest” provisions guiding when a license is required and ensuring truth in advertising regarding offers to convey interests other than “title interests”. As has always been the general law in Texas, a person must be licensed by the Commission to market real property for another person for compensation. So with limited exceptions, if a person markets a property that is owned by another, a license is required. One of these exceptions is that a person can always, without having a license, offer to sell/convey property that they have title to. If what the person is offering to sell/convey is an option on real property or an assignment of a contract that the person owns, then being accurate as to the nature of the interest being offered relieves the person of the need to hold a license. And if the person offering to sell/convey an interest in real property is also a license holder, then the license holder has a duty to disclose both their status as a license holder and the accurate nature of the interest being offered to sell. Both of these disclosures already exist under current law, but the rule further clarifies the affirmative nature of the disclosure. This is consumer protection at its best – truth in advertising combined with professional responsibility.
As we await the results of the legislative session, we need to acknowledge that a bill has been filed to allow much more flexibility for license holders in the use of lawful trade names registered with the Commission. The Commission has heard the concern that many license holders may feel if their trade names may not currently fall within existing rules. Broadening the scope of acceptable names will place a greater burden on license holders to lessen any potential for consumer confusion by ensuring all disclosures required to be made by license holders to consumers and clients are made in an unquestionably reliable and timely manner. We will count on it.
During the meeting, the Executive Director explained the first draft of the agency’s budget as reviewed by our TREC Budget Committee. Our staff’s level of attention to detail is impressive, and the continued growth in the number of license holders has created both great challenges and major opportunities. Three consecutive years of large increases in applicants for licensure puts pressure on our resources to provide the high level of service that the public and our license holders expect and deserve. Technology has helped but we also need to add more staff to maintain high standards. In addition, reserves built up over several years allow us to explore options for more permanent office arrangements in the future.
Summer is rapidly approaching and the height of the selling season will soon be on us. The Commission wishes each of you the very best as you continue to exercise your chosen profession in a manner that serves the highest interest of Texans to attain their dreams with your ethical professional assistance.